Thu, Mar 28, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Siaolin residents to get Morakot compensation

DECADE ON:The Taiwan High Court has ordered that NT$35.5 million be paid to 15 people, who received a retrial as their homes were in a ‘potential landslide zone’

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan High Court’s Kaohsiung branch yesterday ruled that 15 residents of Kaohsiung’s Siaolin Village (小林) are to receive state compensation for damage inflicted on their village in 2009 due to Typhoon Morakot, when heavy rain caused a landslide that buried most of the village and killed more than 400 residents.

The judges overturned the first and second rulings, and ordered the Kaohsiung City Government to pay NT$35.5 million (US$1.15 million) in compensation to the 15 residents, who are each to receive between NT$1.5 million and NT$3 million.

The Supreme Court in a final verdict on June 8, 2017, rejected an appeal for financial compensation from 123 survivors.

In that ruling, the judges ordered a retrial at the Taiwan High Court for 15 residents whose homes were within the “potential landslide zone” as determined by the then-Kaohsiung county government.

“We have waited 10 long years to receive this news. I hope that the Kaohsiung City Government does not appeal this ruling, so we can close the lawsuit on this note,” said Tsai Sung-yu (蔡松諭), head of the village support group.

Attorney Jerry Cheng (鄭文龍), who volunteered as a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he is happy about the verdict, because the judges finally afforded justice and consolation to the victims and their families.

“In the first and second rulings on the class-action lawsuit filed by 123 survivors, the courts made incorrect assumptions, believing that if it was a natural disaster, then government officials are off the hook,” Cheng said.

The Disaster Prevention and Protection Act (災害防救法) has provisions for government agencies to enact measures to prevent or minimize the effects of natural disasters, he said.

“We know that it is impossible to predict and avert the impact of natural disasters, but aims and objectives have been established to mitigate the damages,” Cheng said. “However, the Kaohsiung county government and its employees did not take up these tasks... We hope that local governments can learn from this and plan more carefully for the risks and effects brought by natural disasters.”

Heavy rain from Typhoon Morakot on Aug. 8, 2009, caused a rockslide on Siandu Mountain (獻肚山) on the northeast side of the village the next day. Flash flooding then destroyed most buildings in the village and killed 462 people.

In the class-action lawsuit, the residents said that officials had failed to evacuate the area after the highest-level warning for flooding and landslides had been issued.

Kaohsiung city and county were merged into a special municipality on Dec. 25, 2010.

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